South Africa’s digital health travails provide useful lessons.

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The article ticks the checkboxes in implementing a “healthcare stack” from the ground up. In my opinion, it is crucial to understand the lacunae and the shortcuts end-users employ to get around to capture essential data. Technology illiteracy is widespread, and only because most are not comfortable with the medium. It would take several iterations to understand that a UI/UX specialist is absolutely critical to its success.

Although South Africa requires interoperability for such systems, the level of compliance to standards varies in different hospitals, especially where interconnectivity with medical equipment and devices is needed. It is going to take time to achieve full implementation.

Valid, consistent data has also been a concern. Successful implementation only ever remains as good as the user who inputs it and the managers who interpret it. Accurate capture requires understanding of health indicator definitions. Reports submitted from peripheral facilities tended to be overestimated. Prior to the creation of the Health Patient Registration System (HPRS) — designed to improve patient data collection — there were instances of headcounts being duplicated.

It is not about developed versus the developing countries. I think it boils down to the commonsensical application of computer interface without overwhelming the users and making it accessible. User-centric design is absolutely paramount in making it happen.

via South Africa’s digital health travails provide useful lessons | Financial Times